Golf Tidbits: One step left for Kuchar

For golfers, it's all about the process. The process of learning a new swing or the process of learning how to win the big one.

Matt Kuchar won his fifth PGA Tour title on Sunday, and that victory was just another step in the process toward winning his first major championship.

Kuchar's quest to become a major champion started as an amateur when he won the 1997 U.S. Amateur Championship. Back in the day, that was considered a major championship, but that stopped about 40 years before Kuchar was born.

The 34-year-old's next step toward winning a major happened 11 years ago at this week's PGA Tour stop, the Honda Classic. That was where Kuchar picked up his first tour victory.

As a brief aside, Kuchar collected $630,000 for that win. His fifth title earned Kuchar a cool $1.5 million.

It took seven more years, but Kuchar finally won his second title in 2009, and he hasn't stopped winning. His third win was at 2010 The Barclays, one of the FedExCup Playoff events.

From there, Kuchar took another big step along the way as he won last year's Players Championship. Many consider that the "fifth" major because year in and year out it has one of the best fields.

Being the Players Champion has many perks, including a three-year exemption into three of the four majors, the PGA Championship being the only exception.

Not that he wasn't already qualified for this year's fourth major at Oak Hill, but Kuchar clinched his spot in the field at the PGA Championship by fending off fellow American Hunter Mahan in the final match Sunday at the World Golf Championship - Accenture Match Play Championship.

Kuchar rolled through his six matches. He never played the 18th hole and played the 17th hole only twice. Kuchar's big week raised his record at the event to 15-3.

The victory meant Kuchar joined Phil Mickelson, Adam Scott, Henrik Stenson and Tiger Woods as the only five men to win both the Players Championship and a World Golf Championship title.

Of that group, Mickelson and Woods are fellow U.S. Amateur champions. That's some pretty heady company for Kuchar.

Kuchar's next step in the process? Joining Mickelson and Woods as major champions.


Over the past few weeks, the announcement seemed like it was coming at any time. PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem finally met with the press on Sunday, while Kuchar was winning the final match at The Golf Club at Dove Mountain.

Finchem announced that the PGA Tour will oppose the anchoring ban that the United States Golf Association and Royal & Ancient proposed in late November.

The commissioner made it a point to say this isn't a "donnybrook" between the tour and the USGA. And he's right. The tour was asked for its opinion and is giving it.

Since the ban was proposed, the tour's players and board of directors had many conversations about it and came to the same conclusion.

As Finchem stated on Sunday, "Essentially where the tour came down was that they did not think that banning anchoring was in the best interest of golf or the PGA Tour."

And he's right.

The ban seemed to be a rush to judgment after three of the last five major champions used a long putter. Why, you ask, was it a rush to judgment?

Because long putters have been around since the 1960s. All of a sudden people are winning majors with them, and now it's time to ban them?

The governing bodies of the USGA and R&A left a 90-day window for comments on the proposed ban, and that window is closing shortly. After that, the two bodies will reconvene to see if the language in the proposed rule change needs to be tweaked.

The crux of the new rule, if the proposal goes unchanged, would be that a player using a long putter cannot either anchor the putter in his stomach with a belly putter, or anchor his arm and/or hand against his body while using a long putter, and said long putter also cannot be anchored under one's chin.

One of the key points that commissioner Finchem brought up was that there is an "absence of data or any basis to conclude that there is a competitive advantage to be gained by using anchoring."

If the USGA or R&A can come up with said data, will the PGA Tour back off its stance? Will those governing bodies agree with the PGA Tour and scrap the proposed ban? Will the organizations battle over the plan until 2016, when the ban was scheduled to go in effect?

There are dozens of questions like this. We won't have any concrete answers until the USGA or R&A responds. I know this - the PGA Tour is using the most salient argument there is.

Does anchoring give a competitive advantage? That should be the focus of this debate until the USGA responds.


* Beatriz Recari is on quite a roll on LPGA Tour. She has made the cut in 36 consecutive starts dating to late in the 2011 season.

* The PGA Tour finally heads to Florida this week as the West Coast swing came to an end. Thank goodness, for that, because I swear the locusts were coming. The tour had delays for fog, wind, rain and even snow.